After Donald Trump’s rant about the “sons of bitches” kneeling or protesting during the national anthem at NFL games, the pregame festivities ahead of the Week 3 slate of games became more interesting than the games themselves as teams, players, owners, coaches, and everyone else involved in the NFL tried to figure out how to properly respond.
In London, where the Jaguars and Ravens played, we got our first peek at how the teams would respond to Trump when both teams held massive protests on the sidelines, including Jags owner Shahid Khan, a Trump supporter, who spoke out against Trump’s comments afterwards.
As the 1 p.m. ET games neared kickoff, there was plenty of speculation about who would and wouldn’t be protesting (and whether a prominent white quarterback would be the first to join the protests). For Pittsburgh, they chose to stay in the locker room for the anthem rather than be on the sidelines. Mike Tomlin explained the decision, noting it was to keep any players from feeling uncomfortable or pressured to participate or not participate in a protest.
A number of players went through pregame warmups on Sunday morning wearing “#IMWITHKAP” t-shirts, lending support to Colin Kaepernick who remains out of the league after having started the kneeling during the anthem protests a year ago.
Nearly every team in the league, with the Steelers as the exception having stayed in the locker room, had players participating in some form of protest during the national anthem.
There were, of course, those in the stands that responded to the players’ protests with jeers and anger.